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Parrots of horror

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kea#Diet

"In 1993, however, its nocturnal assaults were captured on video,[5] proving that at least some Kea will attack and feed on healthy sheep. The video confirmed what many scientists had long suspected, that the Kea uses its powerful curved beak and claws to rip through the layer of wool and eat the fat from the back of the animal. Though the bird does not directly kill the sheep, death can result from blood poisoning or accidents suffered by animals trying to escape."

The world's largest parrot, the Hyacinth macaw, is a meter long. Granted, a lot of that is a long tail. It's still strong enough to open coconuts. Your fingers aren't safe around any large parrot beak but this one seems particularly unwise to taunt.

I forget if I mentioned cannibal chickens here. When last in Spokane, my brother-in-law threw KFC scraps to his backyard chickens, and they went *nuts* over it. Nuts as in racing to pick at the bones. This ties in with things I've heard elsewhere but can't recall, to a hypothesis that there aren't any natural herbivores by inclination, just would-be carnivores with varying abilities to obtain meat and alternate backup strategies.

Ever since my mother told me about feral parrots in Hyde Park in Chicago, I've wondered how they survive the winter. I still don't *know*. My leading hypothesis was sheltering against warm buildings. But the star of North America, the monk parakeet, is kind of temperate zoned, being found as far south as Buenos Aires (up to 35 S, I guess. But Chicago is 42, and I've seen claims of colonies in Wisconsin.) It also uniquely (for parrots) builds big stick nests, which may help it shelter, and it's social in big flocks, so can huddle for warmth.

http://www.junipercivic.com/juniperberryarticle.asp?nid=224
http://www.ehow.com/how_2323394_find-wild-parrots-chicago.html

But the rose-ringed parakeet is outright tropical, with a Wikipedia map showing the Sahel and India as its natural range, and it's colonized Germany, London, and Manchester. What's up with that? I'm still looking at "warm building spots", but have added "they're warm-blooded and covered in feathers, they can survive as long as they get food regularly." Which is also where the urban nature fits in.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rose-ringed_Parakeet#Phylogeny_and_distribution

It's comforting to know that if I ever want a parrot, there are multiple species with abundance levels of "pest" as opposed to "vulnerable", or extinct like the Carolina parakeet.

'parakeet' seems to mean "small parrot with a long tail", it's not a clade of specifically related spacies.

***
I have lots of other links, but I guess I'll make this only about parrots.

Except for http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paraphyletic I've often heard "reptiles aren't a real group, because they exclude birds (and mammals)", but there's a word for that, and the idea is of a related group minus members that have diverged sufficiently distinctly. Other examples are prokaryotes (eukaryotes are descended, but treated differently), primates or apes minus humans, ungulates minus whales (!), bony fish minus tetrapods, invertebrates minus vertebrates... pretty common.

See the comment count unavailable DW comments at http://mindstalk.dreamwidth.org/336995.html#comments

Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
notthebuddha
Oct. 15th, 2012 02:29 pm (UTC)
I already knew from the grandparents farm, but I recall Tori warned about bad stuff happening when chickens taste meat on BOYS FOR PELE.
harimad
Oct. 15th, 2012 07:06 pm (UTC)
This ties in with things I've heard elsewhere but can't recall, to a hypothesis that there aren't any natural herbivores by inclination, just would-be carnivores with varying abilities to obtain meat and alternate backup strategies.

Little confused here about this connection. Were you under the impression that chickens were natural herbivores?
mindstalk
Oct. 18th, 2012 12:29 am (UTC)
Hmm, good point. Eating lots of plant matter, but insects too.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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